by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 30 October 2012
Media Alert: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, Faces Another Imprisonment
Tamimi, who was released last march after spending 13 months in prison for organizing demonstrations, was re-arrested last week at a protest and may face 17 months.
When: Wednesday, October, 31, 2012 at 10am
Where: Ofer military court
Media contact: Abir Kopty +972-54-6782420
Bassem Tamimi, 45, a Palestinian protest organizer and grassroots activist from the village of Nabi Saleh, was arrested last Wednesday, October 24, during a demonstration inside Sha’ar Benyamin settlement, east of Ramallah.
As the demonstration came to an end, several Israeli police officers violently detained Tamimi, breaking three of his ribs in the process. He was subsequently interrogated on participating in an unauthorized demonstration and assault of a police officer.
During his latest prison stint, which ended only in March, Tamimi was recognized as a human rights defender by the European Union and pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He was convicted of protest-organizing related charges, and sentenced to 13 months of imprisonment, as well as a 17-month suspended sentence that now looms over his head.
Tamimi’s arrest has already been extended twice by a military judge, who denied him bail, “because of his burdening past, pending suspended sentence and recent imprisonment”. An indictment against Tamimi will be filed tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Ofer Military Court by the Israeli Military Prosecution, which is expected to petition to extend Tamimi’s remand until the end of legal proceedings against him.
Nariman Tamimi, Bassem’s wife, said today, “According to military law, Palestinians don’t have a right to demonstrate – all protest is illegal. An Israeli military judge told my husband that if he exercises his right to protest again, he will spend 17 months in prison. Well, he wouldn’t sit quietly at home, and now they want to try and punish him for that”.
Bassem Tamimi’s previous detention spanned between March 2011 to March 2012. He was indicted on protest-organizing charges, and has spent 13 months in jail. His trial has shed light on systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ right during police interrogations, and the use of their coerced confession to persecute political leadership.
Tamimi has been recognized by the European Union as a human rights defender and recently pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as police admittal of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, when a police interrogator who questioned both material witnesses against Tamimi, said on the stand that in his 25 years as an officer, he cannot recall a single time in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning.
Bassem Tamimi is a veteran Palestinian grassroots activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. He is married to Nariman Tamimi, with whom he fathers four children – Wa’ed (16), Ahed (12), Mohammed (10) and Salam (7).
As a veteran activist, Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date, though he was never convicted of any offense. Tamimi spent roughly three years in administrative detention, with no charges brought against him. Furthermore, his attorney and he were denied access to “secret evidence” brought against him.
In 1993, Tamimi was falsely arrested on suspicion of having murdered an Israeli settler in Beit El – an allegation of which he was cleared of entirely. During his weeks-long interrogation, he was severely tortured by the Israeli Shin Bet in order to draw a coerced confession from him. During his interrogation, and as a result of the torture he underwent, Tamimi collapsed and had to be evacuated to a hospital, where he laid unconscious for seven days. As a result of the wounds caused by torture, Tamimi was partially paralyzed for several months after his release from the hospital.
At the opening of his previous trial, on June 5, 2011, Tamimi proudly owned up to organizing protests in the village. In a defiant speech before the court he said, “I organized these peaceful demonstrations to defend our land and our people.” Tamimi also challenged the legitimacy of the very system which trys him, saying that “Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws [...] that are enacted by authorities which I haven’t elected and do not represent me.” (See here for Tamimi’s full statement).
As one of the organizers of the Nabi Saleh protests and coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Tamimi has been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army. Since demonstrations began in the village, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times, his wife was twice arrested and two of his sons were injured; Wa’ed was hospitalized for five days when a rubber-coated bullet penetrated his leg and Mohammed was injured by a tear-gas projectile that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder.
Shortly after demonstrations in the village began, the Israeli Civil Administration served ten demolition orders to structures located in Area C, Tamimi’s house was one of them, despite the fact that part of the house was built in 1965 and the rest in 2005.